Seminole strip mall casinos find way around county ordinance

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

Some strip mall casinos have figured out how to get around a law that puts them out of business, but Seminole County leaders are now working to rewrite their rules.

The Seminole County ordinance prohibits devices that use cards that are first loaded up with cash and then swiped to play.

"Despite what the proprietors say, this is gambling," said former state Rep. Scott Plakon.

Plakon is an avid supporter of the county ordinance that bans gaming computers.

The Seminole County ordinance prohibits devices that use cards that are swiped to play, but since the rule was passed two years ago, WFTV learned operators are switching out the machines for ones that use a new password system, technically not covered under the ordinance.

Instead of cards, players get password-protected accounts they can fill up with money.

"This is a at-and-mouse game and in this case, this mouse is very well-funded, and they are going to try to skirt the law in every way that they can," said Plakon. "So they can keep going with this activity that many believe is illegal even under current law."

The county is now rewriting its ordinance, but Plakon, whose bill to ban strip mall casinos was defeated in the senate last year, believes it's going to take more to put the operations out of business.

"A lot of these counties are doing what they can. They're really sort of Band-Aids to try and address the issue," he said.

The county commission will take a look at the proposed changes to the simulated gambling ordinance at its meeting Tuesday.